Midland Main Line
|Midland Main Line|
|Principal stations (from south to north)
The line links London (St Pancras) to Sheffield (Midland station) in northern England and connects other places including Luton, Bedford, Kettering, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham. There are plans to build East Midlands Parkway to serve East Midlands Airport.
Express passenger services on the line are operated by the Midland Mainline train operating company. The section between St Pancras and Bedford is electrified and is also used by Thameslink commuter trains (operated by First Capital Connect), who also provide a through service from Bedford to Brighton.
The northern part of the route between Derby and Sheffield is shared with Virgin Cross-Country train services. Central Trains also operates regional and local services between Nottingham and Leicester / Derby / Sheffield.
The Midland Main Line was built in stages between the 1830s and the 1860s, as three lines which met at the Tri Junct Station in Derby. First to arrive was the line built by the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway and its subsidiary the Stonebridge Railway from Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire, on the London and Birmingham Railway, to Derby. This section opened on 12 August 1839. This is now the "cross-country" route through Birmingham to Bristol.
This was followed on 1 July 1840 by the North Midland Railway, which ran from Derby to Leeds Hunslet Lane Station via Chesterfield, Swinton, Masborough, near Rotherham (from where the Sheffield and Rotherham Railway ran a branch to Sheffield Wicker Station), and Normanton. This avoided Sheffield, Barnsley, and Wakefield in order to reduce gradients.
On the same day the Midland Counties Railway, which ran from Derby and Nottingham to Leicester, was extended from Leicester (its previous Campbell Street Station being replaced by the current London Road Station) to a temporary station on the northern outskirts of Rugby. A few months later, the Rugby viaduct was finished and the Midland Counties Railway reached the London and Birmingham's Rugby Station. This cut 11 miles off the former route via Hampton-in-Arden. Consequently the Stonebridge Railway lost all importance, was soon singled, and closed in 1917 as a wartime economy measure and to release track material for other use. Thus this became the first main line in Britain to close. Its parent company, the Birmingham and Derby Junction, survived, reached Birmingham Lawley Street Station in 1842, and is now part of the Cross-Country InterCity route from Birmingham to the North-East.
When these three companies merged to form the Midland Railway on 10 May 1844, the Midland did not have its own route to London, and relied upon a junction at Rugby with the London and Birmingham's line (which became part of the London and North Western Railway on 1 January 1846) to London Euston for access to the capital.
By the 1850s the junction at Rugby had become severely congested, and so the Midland Railway constructed a route from Leicester to Hitchin on the Great Northern Railway, via Bedford. The line avoids Northampton, a major town south of Leicester, instead going via Kettering and Wellingborough in the east of Northamptonshire. This line met with similar problems at Hitchin as the former alignment had at Rugby, so in 1868 a line was opened from Bedford via Luton to London St Pancras.
The final stretch of what is considered to be the modern Midland Main Line was a short cut-off from Chesterfield through Sheffield, which opened in 1870.
Also part of the line is the Erewash Valley Line, which carries services from Chesterfield and the north to Nottingham and the south.
The cities, towns and villages served by the MML are listed below. Those in bold are served by fast InterCity services.
London to Trent Junction
- London St Pancras
- Kentish Town
- West Hampstead
- Mill Hill Broadway
- Elstree & Borehamwood
- St. Albans
- Luton Airport Parkway
- Luton Town
(First Capital Connect services and electrification end here.)
- Kettering North Junction: formerly services to Corby and Melton Mowbray, from which both Leicester and Nottingham could be reached via an alternative route
- Wigston South Junction
- At Trent Junction, the line splits into three, with lines to Derby, Nottingham and Erewash Valley
Trent Junction via Derby
- Rejoins with Erewash Valley line.
Trent Junction via Erewash Valley Line
Trent Junction via Nottingham
- trains often reverse to join the Erewash Valley Line at Trowell Junction
Chesterfield & the North
Belper Junction to Manchester
This is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line: see Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway
The line was once the Midland Railway's route from London St Pancras to Manchester, branching at Belper Junction along the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway, now known as the Derwent Valley Line. In days gone by, it featured named expresses such as The Palatine and the Peaks. Much later in the twentieth century, it carried the Midland Pullman.
- Amber Gate
- Watstandwell Bridge
- Cromford Bridge
- Matlock Bath
- Monsal Dale
- Millers Dale
- (Blackwell Mill)
- Peak Forest
- New Mills
- Reddish North
- Ryder Brow
- Belle Vue
- Stockport (Teviot Dale)
- Manchester Central
This line was closed in the 1960s between Matlock and Buxton, severing an important link between Manchester and the East Midlands, which has never been satisfactorily replaced by any mode of transport. A section of the route remains in the hands of the Peak Rail preservation group, operating between Matlock and Rowsley to the north.
Leeds to Carlisle and the West Riding Extension
This is no longer considered part of the Midland Main Line: see Settle-Carlisle Railway.
World War I prevented the Midland Railway from finishing its direct route (avoiding reversal at Leeds) to join the Settle and Carlisle. The first part of the Midlands West Riding extension from the main line at Royston (Yorks) to Dewsbury was opened before the war. However the second part of the extension was not completed. This involved a viaduct at Dewsbury over the River Calder, a tunnel under Dewsbury Moor and a new approach railway into Bradford from the south at a lower level than the existing railway (a good part of which was to be in tunnel) leading into Bradford Midland (or Bradford Forster Square) station.
The 500yd gap between the stations at Bradford continues to exist today - closing it today would also need to take into account the different levels between the two Bradford stations, a task made easier in the days of electric rather than steam traction, allowing for steeper gradients than possible at the time of the Midlands proposed extension.
The failure to complete this section ended the Midland's hopes of being a serious competitor on routes to Scotland and finally put beyond all doubt that Leeds, not Bradford, would be the West Riding's principal town. Midland trains to Scotland continue onwards from Carlisle via either the Glasgow and South Western or Waverley route. In days gone by the line enjoyed named expresses such as the Thames-Clyde Express and The Waverley.
The first section, between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square was opened by the Midland Railway on 1 July 1846. The route is described below. However it originally included stations serving the following places, many of which are now closed:
- Leeds - the station was named Leeds (Wellington) to differentiate it from the other main line stations in the city, belonging to the North Eastern Railway (NER)
- Kirkstall Forge
- Newlay & Horsforth
- Calverley & Rodley
- here is Apperley Junction for the Wharfedale line
- Apperley Bridge & Rawdon
- here is Bingley tunnel
- Steeton & Silsden
- Kildwick & Crosshills
- Grassington branch, opened 30 July 1902, closed 22 September 1930
- the Wharfedale line
- the line to Burnley via Colne and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR)
The main line continues:
- Bell Busk, for Malham
- here is the junction for the L&YR line to Blackburn
- Hellifield: here was a locomotive shed
- Long Preston
The original main line to Lancaster had the following stations:
- Clapham - here was the junction for Ingleton and an end-on junction via Sedbergh to Low Gill on the London and North Western Railway (LNW) West Coast Main Line. The line was frequently used as an alternative through route when the Settle-Carlisle main line was blocked. It was opened from Ingleton by the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway in 1857: the route was closed to passenger traffic on 1 Feb 1954
- Wennington - here the Furness Railway connected with the Midland: the line was via Carnforth, on the LNW West Coast Main Line
- Halton (closed 1957)
- Lancaster (Green Ayre) - at this point the line divides: a triangular junction for the two lines:
- Morecambe, opened 12 June 1848 - and the branch to
- Heysham Harbour, including a station for Middleton Road Heysham.
- the line was electrified, as Britain's first overhead high tension AC electrification, in 1908.
The line to Carlisle, from Settle Junction, opened by the Settle-Carlisle Railway (and still known by the name), served the following places:
- Taitlands Tunnel (now called Stainforth Tunnel)
- Horton in Ribblesdale
- Ribblehead- here is the Ribblehead Viaduct (originally named Batty Moss Viaduct) 440 yd (396 m), with 24 piers
- Blea Moor Tunnel 2629 yd (2366 m) long
- here is Dent Head viaduct
- Dent (4.5 miles outside the village of Dent)
- Rise Hill Tunnel
- here were the highest water troughs in the United Kingdom. Steam locomotives were able to pick up water from these troughs whilst still moving.
- Garsdale - originally named Hawes Junction & Garsdale.
- At Hawes station, on the branch to the east of the main line, there was an end-on-junction with the North Eastern Railway (NER) line across the Pennines to Northallerton
- On the next stretch, there were three tunnels (Moorcock Tunnel, Shotlock Hill Tunnel and Birkett Tunnel).
- On this stretch also was the summit of the line at Ais Gill, 1169 ft (350 m) ASL
- Kirkby Stephen- There were two stations here, one (Kirkby Stephen West) for the Midland line and Kirkby Stephen East for the NER (the latter's line from Darlington to Tebay). The two stations are about half a mile apart. The Midland station also served the village of Ravenstonedale
- Crosby Garrett
- Appleby - as with Kirby Stephen, there were separate stations for the Midland and NE lines, with a siding connection. The NE line was the branch known as the Eden Valley Railway between Kirkby Stephen and Eden Valley Junction on the West Coast Line near Clifton
- Long Marton
- New Biggin
- there are three tunnels between these stations
- here is Lazonby Tunnel
- Lazonby & Kirkoswald
- there are three more tunnels between these two stations
- Scotby - station also served the NER line from Newcastle
- Carlisle: the station - full title Carlisle Citadel was owned jointly by the LNWR and the Caledonian Railway: the Midland (among others) was a "tenant Company".
The principal operator is Midland Mainline.
- First Capital Connect between Bedford and St. Albans.
- Central Trains between Leicester and Nottingham, and Chesterfield to Sheffield.
- Virgin Cross Country between Derby and Leeds, and Derby and Burton on Trent.
- Northern Rail between Sheffield and Barnsley, and Doncaster to York.
- GNER between Doncaster and Leeds.
As with most railway lines in Britain, the route used to serve far more stations than it currently does (and consequently passes close to settlements that it no longer serves). Places that the current mainline used to serve include
- London to Leicester
- Camden Road
- Haverstock Hill
- Finchley Road
- Welsh Harp
- Chiltern Green
- Isham and Burton Latimer
- East Langton
- Great Glen
- Wigston Magna
- Leicester to Trent Junction
- Leicester Humberstone Road
- Cossington Gate
- Derwent Valley
- Breaston (later Sawley - see Long Eaton)
- Derby Nottingham Road
- Clay Cross
- Erewash Valley
- Long Eaton (Original Midland Counties Railway station not the present one)
- Stapleford and Sandiacre
- Stanton Gate
- Ilkeston and Cossal
- Shipley Gate
- Codnor Park and Ironville
- Pye Bridge
- Westhouses and Blackwell
- Doe Hill
- Chesterfield to Leeds
- Woodhouse Mill
- Attercliffe Road
- Rotherham Masborough
- Rawmarsh and Parkgate
- Swinton West (reopened Swinton)
The following on the original North Midland Railway line
- Royston and Notton
- Oakenshaw (originally for Wakefield)
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